Sunday we started our special 10 day charter. We had some guests arrive to the boat, on their own and we picked up the rest from their hotels. We welcomed on 17 guests from the US and 1 guest would be arriving later. We started with a quick introduction to their cabins. Then on the dive deck, everyone set up their dive gear. We then headed up stairs for dinner and after, we covered the vessel orientation and safety briefing. We then handed out the life lines and watched a documentary on Palau. Soon everyone was off to bed.
Early Monday morning we started up the big boat and headed into Malakal Harbor. After breakfast we covered the general dive briefing. With our special 10 day charter we start off with a day of wrecks. Our first dive was at the Helmet Wreck or also known as the Depth Charge Wreck. This wreck is so named due to the couple stacks of WWII helmets found in the first cargo hold as well as the depth charges in the first two cargo holds. We entered the water and everyone did a weight check and soon started their descent. We stopped in the first cargo hold, saw the helmets, and continued down towards the bow of the wreck. In the middle cargo hold we saw more depth charges and the large spot light. We then swam through the cargo hold to the forward cargo hold and saw the airplane motors. We turned around at the bow anchor wench and went back to the stern. On the way we found a couple of signal gobies on the silted deck. We then spent the rest of the dive looking over the artifacts that have been collected and placed out on the stern. After lunch, the big boat moved over close to our second dive at the Chuyo Maru. We descended down the mooring line to the deck of the wreck and soon found two crocodile fish towards the stern. We then headed towards the bow and at the top of the front king post we saw the red anemone with the tomato anemone fish. For our third dive we headed into the rock islands and took the skiff to The Iro. We started from the mooring saw the large bow gun, swam past the wheel house and looked down into the engine room. We turned around at the stern gun and circled up the aft king post. At the top we took photos of the red anemones with tomato anemone fish. Dinner was soon ready after we arrived at the big boat, after dinner we did a night dive at the Helmet Coral Garden and saw a couple of head shield slugs and cardinal fish and sea cucumbers. For the rest of the guests that did not do the night dive, we put on the Palau fish ID presentation on the most common fish we see here in Palau.
Early Tuesday morning the big boat headed to Ulong. We dropped our anchor in front of the Survivor Beach we started our diving. Our first dive was at Siaes Tunnel. We entered the water, descended down the wall to the entrance of the tunnel. In the tunnel we found the decorated dartfish and pygmy angel fish and then exited the tunnel with the wall on our right. We saw a couple of sharks in the blue and some anemones along the wall. Back at the big boat we covered the last power presentation how to use our reef hooks and dive two was at Siaes Corner. The current was out going and we swam along the wall to the hook in area. We hooked in and enjoyed the show, there were a lot of sharks in the blue and even a wahoo and dog tooth tuna passed by. We then unhooked and drifted across the plateau and found a turtle. After lunch dive three was at the famous Ulong Channel. We entered the water from the mooring and drifted along the wall towards the hook in area. There were a couple of anemones balled up feeding the made for great photos. We hooked in at the mouth of the channel and had only 4 gray reef sharks pass by in front of us. We then unhooked and drifted into the channel. Everyone enjoyed drifting down the sandy bottom channel past the lettuce coral and we ended the dive at the giant clams. For dive four we went back out to Ulong Channel, it was still incoming so we had a repeat dive with all the same marine life as the last dive. Back at the big boat, as soon as everyone was off the skiff, we sent it back into Koror to pick up the last guest that was arriving late. Dinner was soon ready and soon after everyone was off to bed. We don’t offer night dive while in Ulong.
After breakfast Wednesday morning the skiff returned with our late guest and we loaded up everyone else to go to Sandy Paradise. Days before the new moon this site is where the bump head parrot fish spawn. We started the dive from the mooring and descended down along the beautiful hard coral garden. A short while later we started to see the bump heads doing their thing and there had to have been about a thousand or so all rushing around the reef with the females starting the charge towards the surface and the males all chasing after her to spawn. It was an awesome dive. For dive two we went to Ulong Coral Garden. We started the dive from the furthest mooring and traveled along the wall. We arrived at the small corner and saw a couple of sharks in the blue. At the tip of the corner the beautiful anemone made for some great photos. We kept swimming along and found the giant clam in the sand bottom and also a juvenile dragon wrasse. We ended our dive with the current pushing us out the mouth of the channel. During lunch the big boat moved to the German Channel area and dive three was at Turtle Cove. We entered the water and swam over on the surface to the chimney on top the plateau and descended down and out along the wall. We found some macro life and at the corner we saw the schools of fish. For our fourth dive we headed out to Big Drop Off. We saw the ball and chain left over from the German’s occupation prior to WWI, and some macro life as well. After dinner we went back to Big Drop Off for the night dive. At night this wall completely changes, all the cup coral opens up to filter feed and crabs and shrimp can be seen all over the place.
Thursday morning we headed out to Blue Corner for dive one. The current was incoming and got our reef hooks ready. There was another group ahead of us so we hooked in at 45 feet and enjoyed the show. All the marine life was there, sharks, jacks, and the friendly napoleon wrasse. After the group in front of left we moved down to the 60 foot hook in area and hooked in again. There were more sharks down at 60 feet. We then unhooked and explored the plateau. For dive two we went to the “Mini Blue Corner” also know as New Drop Off. The current was out going and we drifted along the wall to the hook in area. We passed by the big cut and hooked in. We sat back and watched as a couple of grey reef sharks passed by and the schools of yellow tail barracuda were off to the side of the group. We unhooked and explored the plateau and found the green sea turtles sleeping. After lunch dive three was at Ngedebus Corner. We had a nice drift around this soft coral covered corner. We hound several anemones and macro subjects. For the fourth dive we had an incoming current and went to German Channel. It was the start of the incoming so the visibility was not the best but we still had a good dive. We started from the Koror side of the channel, stopped at the red anemone and continued to the cleaning station. The current was flowing nice and we sat down and waited but no mantas came into be cleaned. We headed across the mouth of the channel and saw two mantas up feeding above us, with the strong current we decided to wait and watch the show from the bottom. Around 45 minutes into the dive we ascended to the shallow water to be with the mantas as they were feeding and then drifted into the channel to end our dive. The night dive was at Turtle Cove. We started from the back mooring and went along the wall finding hairy hermit crabs and nudi’s.
Friday morning we started the day with Blue Corner. We checked the current and it was incoming to start the dive, but switched several times on us under water. We spent the whole dive on top the plateau with the schools of fish, napoleon wrasse and a couple of turtles. For dive two we went to Blue Holes. We entered the water and swam over on the surface to the holes and descended down into the chamber. We took photos, saw the disco clam, then exited and made it down to Blue Corner. We were low on bottom time so we just decided to drift across the plateau with the napoleons following us for the rest of the dive. After lunch we headed to Dexters Wall. In total we saw 10 turtles and a couple of sharks in the blue water. Mixed in amongst the beautiful soft corals that cover the wall we saw some nudi’s and anemones. For the fourth dive we headed back to New Drop Off. The current was incoming and we did the opposite side of the corner then the last time. We drifted along the beautiful wall and hooked in on the corner. We had several sharks in front of us the whole time we were hooked in. We spent most of the dive hooked in because there were a lot of sharks, and then we unhooked and saw the turtles on top the plateau. After dinner the night dive was at Ngedebus Coral Garden. We explored the slopping hard coral garden and found two scorpion fish hidden in the coral.
Saturday morning we woke up early and moved the big boat down to Peleliu. After we tied up the big boat in South Dock, our first dive was at Peleliu Corner. We checked the current and it was an incoming current. So we did the “Express.” We entered the water and went wall on the right to the hook in area. We hooked in and had a couple of sharks in front of us. We then unhooked and rode the current all the way to the corner. Alone the way we saw so many grey reef sharks in the blue water. We then started ascending to do our safety stop. After the dive 7 guests went on the Peleliu WWII land tour to explore the sights of one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. The remaining guests went to Orange Beach Coral Garden for dive two. It was outgoing and we drifted along the coral garden with the shallow on our left. We saw some schools of fish and also two crocodile fish. After lunch dive three was at Barracks Point. We saw some big schools of fish, giant clams and around 12 turtles. Half way through the dive the current switched and we turned around and went the other way. Our last dive in Peleliu was West Wall. We entered the water and found a beautiful scorpion fish and in the swim through we found the two robust ghost pipe fish from last week. We ended the dive at the beautiful red anemone on top the plateau. After the dive the big boat left south dock and slowly headed back to German Channel during dinner. The night dive was at German Coral Garden. We found several shrimp and some cone shells out wondering the reef, also a large eel.
We started the day off with German Channel on Sunday. This time we started from the Peleliu side of the channel. We stopped at the Peleliu cleaning station and saw a couple of grey reef sharks getting cleaned, then headed across the mouth of the channel. We found the two ornate ghost pipe fish in a black coral bush, then made it to the Koror side cleaning station. We two mantas above us feeding so we started to ascend but another manta came in from behind us to get cleaned so we sat back down in the sand and watched as the manta made several passes over top of all the divers and slowly swam away. We then looked up and the two were still feeding above us so we went up to the shallow water to be with them for the rest of our dive. For dive two we set out to Virgin Blue Hole. We tied up the skiff to the mooring and swam over on the surface to the chimney. We descended down all the way to over 100 feet and went through the tunnel to the wall. Along the wall we saw all the tropical fish and the dive soon turned into canyon formations with a beautiful archway and to end the dive we found a crocodile fish. Lunch was ready when we arrived at the big boat and dive three was at Ngemelis Coral Garden. Everyone enjoyed this relaxing dive with all the beautiful hard corals and we even saw another crocodile fish. Dive four was at Ferns Wall. We drifted along the wall and saw some sharks, turtles, and some lobsters in the cracks of the reef. After dinner the night dive was at German Coral Garden. This time we did the other side of the channel from the other night and mostly saw crabs, shrimp and an eel out cruising along the reef.
On Monday morning we woke up and started the day with German Channel. We started this time from the Koror side of the channel. We sat down in the sand around the cleaning station and waited. That’s when the dive got crazy. We had mantas coming in from every direction to get cleaned, mantas up above us feeding and at one single time had 5 mantas in view but there could have been more, who knows, they were all going different directions and could have been coming and going. We spent the whole dive at the cleaning station area and ended by drifting into the channel. For dive two we did one last dive at Blue Corner. The current was mild and outgoing. We enjoyed the slow drift along the beautiful wall and at the hook in area; the current was weak so we just spent some time hovering around watching the sharks. The napoleon wrasses were soon swimming in and around the guests. We then decided to take the group to the corner to see the lettuce coral formation and the school of blue lined snapper. Then we could feel that the current starting to pick from the incoming side so we headed to the 60 foot hook in and had several sharks in the blue and a large dog tooth tuna. We started our ascent to do our safety stop with the napoleons. After lunch for dive three, we went to Ngedebus Coral Garden. We started the dive from the mooring and as we descended down to the bottom we had a leopard shark sleeping on the bottom. It stayed the all the photographers to take their photos. We left the shark sleeping and later found two crocodile fish. For dive four we headed out to Ngemelis Wall. We drifted along the wall and saw some macro life. When we returned the big boat started moving into the rock islands to get closer to Jelly fish lake for tomorrow. Soon after we sat down to chef Mani’s final supper of turkey, honey baked ham, mashed potatoes, and more. After dinner we watched Andy’s video of the charter and a short documentary on Jelly Fish Lake.
We woke up Tuesday morning with the big boat in the rock islands. We started with our snorkel at Jelly Fish Lake. We hiked over the hill and entered the water. A short swim into the middle of the lake we were soon surrounded by millions of jelly fish. Everyone enjoyed this unique snorkel with an estimated 13 million jelly fish. After the lake we took the guests on a rock island tour, we first stopped at the famous limestone archway, then some WWII sites as we made our way back to the big boat. We had a quick turnaround and headed out to Chandelier Cave. We surfaced in all four air chambers to take photos of the stalactites and the crystal formations on the ceiling. After an afternoon of cleaning, drying and packing scuba gear, we gathered in the salon at 6pm for the cocktail party and watch a photo slideshow of the charter and soon after some of the guests headed to the airport for their 9pm flight and the rest headed off into town for dinner. After dinner the guests came back to the boat, and at 11pm we said goodbye to four guests as they headed to the airport for their 3am flight.
Wednesday morning at 2am the last of the guests going to the airport left and the remaining guests woke up to continental breakfast. At 8am we said our goodbyes as they guests headed off to their hotels. We would like to thank everyone for joining us this 10 day charter aboard the Tropic Dancer, hope to see you all again soon…
-Tropic Dancer Crew